On Tuesday, October 20th, the 75th edition of the Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain) will get underway in Irun, Spain, amidst a lot of uncertainty due to the health pandemic. The Vuelta is the third and final Grand Tour of the year along with the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia, which is still underway.
This year’s Vuelta had already been moved from mid-August to late-October and will embark on a three week journey across a country with drastically rising numbers of positive tests. Putting the health concerns aside, this year’s Vuelta is arguably the hardest Grand Tour in quite some time.
In addition to moving the race back two months, organizers also had to cut out the first three stages that were to take place in the Netherlands. Instead of the customary 21 stages, this year’s Vuelta will only have 18 stages.
Yet, the reduction has actually made the race even harder as the first week of the race might just be the toughest in modern Grand Tour history. Riders will have two hilly stages, three summit finishes, and a few stages that takes them into the high mountains which will possibly be contested in bad weather.
With that in mind, the 2020 Vuelta a Espana boasts of a deep lineup of stars and potential winners. In fact, the readjusted cycling season has made this year’s Vuelta a must see event.
Never before has a Grand Tour been held this late in the year. Furthermore, the weather, health issues, and riders’ form will all come into play in what should be a very dramatic three weeks of racing.
Vuelta a Espana betting sites have released their odds for the all of the available classifications. This betting preview will focus on just the red jersey, which is handed out to the overall leader and race winner.
The leader’s jersey was originally orange in the first ever Vuelta, which took place in 1935. It has actually changed colors multiple times since then. In the early 1940s, the jersey flip flopped between white jerseys with a red stripe back to an orange color.
From 1955 to 1998, the jersey was a yellow color just like the Tour de France. In 1998, the leader’s jersey took on a deeper gold look. In 2010, race organizers finally changed the jersey to a red color which it remains to this day.
Roberto Heras holds the record for most Vuelta wins at four. He accomplished this feat from 2000 to 2005. Chris Froome has two Vuelta wins and a chance to capture his third this year. Spain has won this Grand Tour 31 times, which is well ahead of second place France with nine victories.
Primoz Roglic won the Vuelta in 2019 and he is back to defend his title.
The following is a list of previous winners dating back to 2008:
The following cycling odds are courtesy of BetOnline:
The following cyclists are the consensus betting favorites to win this year’s Vuelta a Espana:
The Tour de France runner up, Roglic is a heavy favorite over the field with only his teammate Tom Dumoulin close in odds.
Roglic was in the lead on the second to the last stage of the TDF, but ended up losing the yellow jersey to Pogacar in the time trial. It was a heartbreaking loss.
Since then, Roglic went on to finish 6th at the World Championships road race and 1st at Liege-Bastogne-Liege. He clearly has demonstrated that there’s no TDF hangover.
Now, Primoz returns to the Tour of Spain for the second time and he’s the defending champ. He also has the best team alongside him once again and should have a great shot at winning this Grand Tour.
Dumoulin is a former Grand Tour winner as he won the Giro d’Italia in 2017. He’s also finished 2nd at the Giro and the Tour de France, both coming in 2018. This year, Dumoulin raced in the Tour de France, which was his first Grand Tour since a knee injury. He finished 7th overall in a solid showing.
Since then, Dumoulin finished 10th in the World Championships time trial and 14th in the WC road race. He didn’t finish La Fleche Wallonne and was 12th at Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
For his career, Dumoulin has competed in just two Vueltas (2012, 2015). He didn’t finish the 2012 race and ended up 6th in 2015. This will be his first Vuelta since then.
The concern over Dumoulin is that Roglic is the clear cut leader of Team Jumbo-Visma. In order for Dumoulin to win this Grand Tour, Roglic would have to either leave the race, crash or just be on very bad form.
Chris Froome might be getting all of the attention for Team INEOS, but it’s Richard Carapaz that offers the best hope for this team to win the Vuelta.
Carapaz rode in the Tour de France as the top helper for Egan Bernal, but ended up taking over the team by the third week after Bernal exited the race. He finished 13th overall, but did have two runner ups on stages in the final week. He was also 2nd in the King of the Mountains competition.
Since then, Carapaz has competed in just the World Championships road race where he finished 22nd overall.
This will be Carapaz’s third Vuelta appearance. He finished 18th in 2018 and 36th in 2017. Carapaz has competed in five Grand Tours overall and won the 2019 Giro d’Italia.
The 2020 Vuelta offers Carapaz a solid chance at winning the second Grand Tour of his career.
Enric Mas rides for Movistar Team, which is a Spanish team looking to win their home country’s most prestigious race. Yet, like at the Tour de France, this team will have three top riders including the ageless Alejandro Valverde and Marc Soler.
However, it’s Enric who’s been tabbed as the favorite among his team. This will be his third appearance in the Vuelta. He finished 71st in 2017 and he finished 2nd in 2018. That year, Mas had one stage win.
Mas was 5th in this year’s Tour de France, which is his best result in that race. He was also 2nd in the youth classification. He’s never competed in the Giro d’Italia.
Since the Tour de France, Mas has only competed in the World Championships road race for which he didn’t finish.
With a strong team supporting him, especially the veteran Alejandro Valverde, Mas has a great chance of a podium finish this year. He could even threaten Roglic and Carapaz for the race win.
Although he’s listed as one of the betting favorites, I certainly wouldn’t consider him a race favorite. The French rider has consistently disappointed in the Tour de France each year including two months ago when he finished 29th after being a pre-race favorite.
Pinot hasn’t competed in a race since the Tour de France. Despite his lack of success in his home country’s epic race, Pinot has had modest success in the other Grand Tours.
He was 6th in the Vuelta in 2018 and 7th in 2013. He was 4th in the 2017 Giro d’Italia, but has three DNFs in his last five Grand Tours.
Until Pinot can finish on a Grand Tour podium again, the last time coming in the 2014 Tour de France, I would avoid this French rider at all costs. He could be an option for a stage win since there are mountain stages suited for his skills. But, for the overall race win, I wouldn’t give him a second thought.
The following riders offer the best betting value based on their current odds, their success this season so far, and previous experience in the Vuelta:
Left out of the Tour de France and the Giro, Froome will finally make his Grand Tour debut in 2020. He hasn’t competed in a Grand Tour since the 2018 Tour de France due to a serious crash prior to the 2019 TDF. He suffered career threatening injuries.
In fact, Froome has yet to regain the form that has won him four Tour de Frances, one Giro d’Italia, and two Vueltas. His Tour of Spain wins came in 2011 and 2017. He also has two runner ups (2014, 2016) and a 4th place result (2012) in this six previous Vuelta appearances.
Since returning to racing this year, Froome has yet to crack the Top 25 in a race. He didn’t finish Liege-Bastogne-Liege and hasn’t even cracked the Top 30 on a stage for any race.
Froome is my favorite active cyclist, but it’s clear that he’s yet to regain his top form. This year’s Vuelta will be more of a proving ground for Froome than a shot at winning his 8th Grand Tour.
I love me some Sepp Kuss. The 26 year old American had a fantastic showing in the 2020 Tour de France as he constantly protected team leader Primoz Roglic in the mountains. Kuss ended up 15th overall in the TDF, but could’ve finished higher if he wasn’t racing for Roglic.
This will be Kuss’ third Vuelta appearance as he finished 29th last year and 65th in 2018. He will once again ride for Roglic. However, if anything happens to Primoz, then I believe it will be Kuss and not Dumoulin to become the leader of Team Jumbo-Visma due to the American’s form.
The 24 year old Colombian will make his 2nd appearance in the Vuelta after finishing 41st last year. Yet, Martinez should be the leader of EF Pro Cycling whereas he was a supporter in the Tour de France. Speaking of the TDF, Martinez finished 4th in the white jersey competition and won Stage 13.
Prior to the Tour de France, Martinez won the Criterium du Dauphine and was 2nd in the Tour Colombia 2.1.
Martinez has showed good form and he should have a decent team alongside him with Tejay Van Garderen and Michael Woods. It remains unclear as to how Woods will fare overall since he’s coming back from a serious crash and injury.
Wouter Poels at +6600 is my longshot pick to win the Vuelta. In reality, nobody below Daniel Martinez has a realistic shot at winning this race. But, this is a crazy year and 2020 has proven that anything can happen in life. With that said, Poels could surprise many with a strong showing in Spain.
Poels has spent the majority of his career helping others in Grand Tours. This year, he helped Mikel Landa in the Tour de France. In previous years, you would’ve seen Poels helping Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas winning Grand Tours as a member of Team INEOS/Team Sky.
Now, Poels gets a chance to race for personal glory and a team that should support him. How much support they give is up for debate since they’re not bringing as much talent compared to the other top teams like: Jumbo-Visma, Movistar and Team INEOS.
Poels’ best Grand Tour finish came in the 2017 Vuelta when he was 6th overall. Although he’s never won a Grand Tour stage, Poels has the overall talent to be an outside contender this year.
When looking at the top GC contenders and the best teams, this race will come down to Jumbo-Visma, Team INEOS and Movistar. These three teams are loaded with talent and have more than one GC contender.
With that in mind, I believe this race will come down to Primoz Roglic and Richard Carapaz. From there, I really like a motivated Primoz Roglic to win the Vuelta for the second straight year.
Roglic has shown that he’s not suffering from any Tour de France hangover. Furthermore, he has the best team around him again.
I don’t see him holding back in this race. Roglic and Team Jumbo-Visma are going to lay the hammer down immediately especially if there’s concern that the Vuelta will end early.
Take the talented Slovenian to win the 75th edition of the Vuelta a Espana. My podium finishers are: Roglic, Carapaz and Mas.
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